Preparing for a Hurricane

Before you begin to prepare for the approach of a hurricane, here is some basic information about these potentially life changing events. A hurricane is defined as a type of tropical cyclone that normally forms in the tropics. The system is accompanied by thunder storms and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counter clockwise circulation of wind over the earth’s surface.

In the beginning development, a tropical cyclone is referred to as a tropical depression when it has stable wind conditions up to 38 miles per hour. When winds reach 39 to 73 miles per hour, the tropical depression is now reclassified into a tropical storm. Once the winds break the 74 miles per hour barrier, the weather system will officially be called a hurricane.

What makes a hurricane a devastating is the three hazards created by the storm. The first hazard is the storm surges created by the hurricane. Storm surges are when the water is pushed ashore by the forceful winds of the hurricane. Hurricane Katrina produced the largest storm surges ever associated with a hurricane and were the leading causes behind the damages and deaths. The second hazard created by hurricanes is the inland flooding. According to the National Hurricane Center, over the last thirty years, flooding has been responsible for more than half of the deaths associated with hurricanes. The last hazard created from hurricane systems is the high winds. Not only are hurricane force winds able to destroy a poorly constructed building, but it can turn any loose debris into a deadly missiles.

The best way to protect your family and home from the dangers of a hurricane system is preparation. The first key to preparation is to make sure you plan for the emergencies before they are imminent. You do not want to wait until the day before a hurricane to try and prepare.

Part of your preparation for a hurricane is to create a family disaster plan. You want to make sure all of the contact information for family members, work, and school are up to date. It is key to make sure the children know when and how to call emergency numbers if the need arises. Do not expect your children to know how to do this. During your preparation it is important to know where the evacuation routes are in prior to the order being issued. The conditions on the road will be bad enough without you trying to figure a way to get out of town.

Another key to the preparation for a hurricane is the emergency disaster kit. The number priority when stocking your emergency kit is to make sure there is an ample supply of water because it will be needed for drinking, sanitary, and cooking purposes in the even of a disaster. You will want to make sure to store at least one gallon of water per day per person for a minimum of three days. In addition, it is advisable to keep an extra four gallons of water for each person’s personal use. During your preparation, you want to make sure the water is bottled in plastic containers, not glass, and kept in a cool dark place to prevent bacteria from growing. Forget the old practice of filling the tub with water for your drinking supply. Along with the water, you will want to make sure there is at least three days of non-perishable food for each person. Canned foods do work well, but make sure to pack a manual can opener during your preparation or you will not be able to open them. There is a good chance of the power being out after a hurricane comes through. You will want to make sure you prepare your emergency kit with a flashlight, a weather radio station, and enough fresh batteries to run both of them. The best guide for the preparation of the rest of the disaster kit, consider packing similar supplies you would take on a camping trip. You will want to have disposable plates, utensils, garbage bags, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and two changes of clothes for each person, any special needs medication, and a waterproof container to hold cash and important family documents.

When the disaster kit is completed, the next step is to focus on the preparation of your home. When your area receives a hurricane warning, you will want to cover all large windows, doors, and patio doors from potential flying debris. The best time to prepare your house is before the start of the hurricane season or well before you receive the warning because it does take some time to do it properly. There are two ways homeowners can protect the exterior of the home; metal shutters or plywood. Metal shutters are the sturdier of the two and offer the most protection when installed properly. Plywood is an acceptable defense to the high winds and debris if they are anchored properly to the wall.

Remember unprotected standard glass can be broken by flying debris easily and this will result in the pressurization of a structure which can result in the destruction of the home. One of the bigger myths associated with hurricane preparation is that placing masking tape over exposed windows will help protect the windows from shattering. Only impact resistant windows are able to withstand the force of flying debris from a hurricane. Tempered, insulated, or reinforced windows will still need some type of protection.

When it comes to double entry doors, they are more susceptible to being blown open by the high winds because of the wider opening than opposed to a single door. To strengthen this point of weakness, you can install a slide bold at the top and bottom of the inactive door. To help reduce on the amount of flying debris, chain down or lock up outdoor furniture and toys.

Any natural disaster is emotionally draining and you want to make sure to remove any possible stressors that are under your control. If you prepare properly for a potential hurricane, then you will have a better chance of dealing with it.